Artistic Leadership

 

Compass Theatre aims to optimize professional leadership opportunities for the diverse array of artists in Chicago. This goal was realized earlier this year when Compass Theatre was able to help Caitlin Body become a Professional Equity Stage Manager. 

Hello, my name is Caitlin Body and Compass Theatre has helped me make my dream of working in theatre full time a reality. 

 

I was born in Peru and raised in Iowa. Growing up in Iowa I was taken to lots of plays/musicals and enrolled in the local children’s theatre. From the first time I was on stage I knew that I wanted to be a part of the theatre scene for a living. I was on the stage until college. I had the opportunity to be an intern at Des Moines Civic Center and learned about jobs behinds the scenes. I got accepted to DePaul University and graduated with a BFA in Theatre Arts. After graduation, I took a job as an assistant stage manager and have never looked back.   

 

My first job as a stage manager was with Collaboraction. From there I was able to find a lot of work with many Chicago theatres including, Pegasus Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, Urban Theatre Company, Chicago Music Festival and Collaboraction, of which, I am a proud member. Unfortunately, none of these positions were held under an Equity Union contract where I was given working wages and benefits. I did what most people starting out in the theatre world do. I got a day job in addition to my theatre jobs. I have worked at Chicago Pet Sitters since 2013 as a dog walker/pet sitter.  While this job allows me to pay my bills, I still dreamt of being able to turn Equity and work full time in theatre someday. 

In early 2019, Compass Theatre needed to hire an Equity Stage Manager for its inaugural production, What We’re Up Against.  Instead of awarding the position to a person who was already a member of Equity, Compass Theatre instead extended the opportunity to me.  Compass Theatre convinced me that I was ready to make the exciting and scary leap to Equity. 

 

Compass theatre was created with the goal of furthering careers in artistic leadership and thought that awarding the Equity Stage Manager position to me was a great way of achieving that goal. I am so glad they decided to give me the opportunity to become Equity. If I had not been given this opportunity,  it might have taken another 5 years or more to become an Equity Stage Manager. 

 

Since becoming an Equity Stage Manager, the doors of Chicago’s biggest theaters have begun to open. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has since hired me twice! Working at Chicago Shakespeare has not only lead to opportunities at other big theatres, I am also making new friendships and connections. Becoming Equity has also allowed me to reconnect to my culture and Latino roots because of some of the shows I have worked on. For example, I was able to work on one of my favorite productions, La Havana Madrid, as the Equity Stage Manager. 

 


 Becoming Equity means that I receive healthcare, a pension plan, overtime, minimum salary, and a union to protect me. Another big benefit of becoming an Equity Stage Manager is the access to job opportunities that I never had before. I was honestly stuck in a loop and playing it safe until Compass came along and convinced me that I was ready and capable to take on bigger jobs at more established theatres.   Compass gave me a safe space to step into the Equity world. I am now interviewing more places and becoming a stronger stage manager. 

 

Before I became an Equity Stage Manager I was a dog walker who did stage management at night. While I was paid for stage managing, I was not paid enough to quit my day job. The tides are turning! I am now close to becoming a full time Stage Manager that sometimes does dog walking on the side. I am on the path to having a full-time theatre job and making my childhood dreams come true.

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